5 Game-Changing Things To Do When Your Ex Is Playing Mind Games

A client asked me, “What would you do if your ex was playing mind games?”

1) Respond not react

Mind games are about ’emotional power”. They’re like a puppet and puppet master, and the string is your emotions. The more your ex can manipulate your emotions, the more they can play you. They literally “own” you!

Learning to respond rather than react to your ex’s words and actions gives you more control of not only your responses but control of your emotions as well. When they can no longer control your emotions, they can no longer manipulate you.

2) Tell them you know what they’re doing

The power of any mind game lies in the other person not being aware of how and when they’re being played. The person playing mind games assumes they’re smarter than the person they’re playing. If you know that your ex is playing mind games with you, the best antidote to mind games is to tell them that you know what they’re doing and do not like it or approve of it.

A person who truly values a relationship with you (and is mature/emotionally healthy enough to be in a relationship with you) will feel bad and stop the mind games. The other type will just try and find another mind game to play, or give up and move on to somebody else.

3) Don’t play them back

We all have the capacity to be manipulative. When tempted to “give them a taste of their own medicine”, remember that the only person whose time and emotions you waste playing mind games is you.

I know that now, but back then before I became a love coach, I played it back to the best of them. My thinking was “Play the Player!”, but the more “I played the player” the angrier I got (with myself) because not only was I wasting my time (and blocking love), but I was doing the very thing that I resented in the other person.

4) Work on improving your self-esteem and self-value

We’re all vulnerable to being manipulated, however, some people are more vulnerable than others. That is, they have something about them that mind game players are able to take advantage of/exploit to advance their needs, goals, interests or agenda. It could be fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of not finding someone else, feelings of inadequacy etc.

Since you can’t change someone else and can only change you, it’s up to you to assert your value by taking away whatever it is that makes you more vulnerable to mind games.

5) Walk away

Mind games players have one and only one motive, and that is to advance their needs, goals, interests or agenda at the expense of the person being played. Most people are intuitive enough to realize when and how they’re being played and walk away, but even where the mind games “succeed”, the relationship will become troubled over time.

Someone who takes advantage of you and exploits your greatest fears, weaknesses and vulnerabilities does not “value you” (even if they tell you over and over that they love you). Your decision to enter or continue a relationship with someone who is into mind games (the game playing can at times offer some kind of “excitement” and edge to the relationship) should be weighed against the long term effects of the mind game playing – especially if you give in to the “head games” and the other person learns that playing mind games with you works.

In other words, refuse to play the game and there will be no game to play.

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  1. says: Arnie

    My ex only responds to my texts if I ignore her. I hate that I have to play mind games to get her attention and frankly tired of hanging by the phone, waiting for a call, but she leaves me no choice.

  2. says: Pascal

    My ex recently got in touch after 4 months of no contact. We arranged to go have coffee but just as friends. Last minute she cancelled saying it was a bad idea. Yesterday I heard from a mutual friend that she is dating some other guy. I know she likes playing games but this is low even for her.

  3. says: Janice

    I begged for 2 weeks then I left him alone for 6 weeks because it was useless trying to get him back so soon. I then texted him. “Hi, how are you? Long time no speak. He replied after 2 hours, “I’m good and you?” I said I was good too and asked what he was up to? No response. So I waited 2 weeks and texted him again, “You good?”. He responded in less than an hr. “Good. Whats up?”. I told him about things that happened recently and asked him what his week was like. But NO answer. What is he doing? If he doesn’t want me to contact him what doesn’t he say so? And why does he reply then when I follow up he doesn’t answer?

    1. 1) May be he thinks you are playing him and he’s playing you back or, 2) he’s expecting you to pursue him. Try not to wait another two weeks before you contact him again and see if he responds. If he does follow up with another contact etc. If he’s responding then it may just be that he wants to see just how serious you are about staying in contact. If he doesn’t respond…well… you just have to accept that it’s just a game for him.

  4. says: Marie

    My ex contacted me after 4 months of no contact. At first it started with just texts inquiring on each other’s lives, then it moved onto flirting. Its so obvious that we are really into each other but he says we can only be just friends. I made a huge mistake of sleeping with him because I wanted to prove to both of us that we were more than just friends. Since then he has backed out. He doesn’t imitate contact anymore and when I call him he seems in a hurry to get off the phone. But then he says a lot of things about how much he cares about me, sometimes I don’t know what is going thought his mind. I have been sitting here trying to decide if I should just call him and tell him I’d like out of this relationship.

    1. Your ex may care a lot about you and even love you but as he said, at this point all he can offer you is “just friends”. Calling him to tell him you want out of the relationship when you “out” of a relationship (broken up) one, does not make any sense and two, will not make him any more interested. You either take what he’s able to give you or wants to give you, or you move on. Forcing things to happen just makes them worse.